March 8, 2007
Update: Sorry we missed last week�s alert. I was running around Haiti, meeting with activists in Haiti and participating in the Commemoration of the third anniversary of the February 29 Coup d’etat, which included a demonstration that started at the U.S. Embassy and ended at the National Palace. There was a follow-up demonstration yesterday at the French Embassy.
Good news in the case against Carl Dorelien, a Colonel on the High Command in charge of personnel during the 1991-1994 de facto dictatorship, and Florida Lottery Megabucks winner. On February 23, a jury in Miami ordered Dorelien to pay $3.2 million to two victims of the de facto regime, labor leader Lexiuste Cajuste, who was brutally tortured in October 1993, and the family of Michel Pierre, who was killed during the April 1994 Raboteau Massacre. �For details click here.
No good news on political prisoners: on Monday several Haitian radio stations reported that the case against Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste was dismissed, but that is not true. Fr. Gerry is still in Miami receiving treatment for his leukemia, and the Appeals Court has so far refused to dismiss the case. Ren� Civil had a hearing scheduled on his appeal on March 1. The Appeals Court failed to address the violations of �Mr. Civil�s civil liberties (over six months in prison on politicized charges, with no trial), because the judges were at a beachfront hotel for a MINUSTAH seminar on respect for civil liberties. The Court did not tell Mr. Civil or his lawyers about the postponement in advance. The Court did re-schedule the hearing for today, but postponed again when the chief judge gave the court the day off for International Women�s Day.
Coming Attractions: Lots of great activities coming up for International Women�s Day. In Haiti, both the Kolektif Fanmi Prizonye Politik and the Aristide Foundation for Democracy have events scheduled today- we hope to have photos up on www.HaitiJustice.org later today or early tomorrow. Former political prisoner and folksinger Annette Auguste, aka So Anne, will speak and sing in Oakland California on March 10 , will introduce Kevin Pina�s Film HAITI: “We Must Kill the Bandits” in Berkeley on March 14 , and will speak in Los Angeles on March 15 (this is a new date, we�ll have details up later today on our Haiti Human Rights Calendar Section).
This Week�s Action: When we discuss political prisoners in Haiti, we usually just talk about the harm to the prisoners themselves, most of whom are men. The women from the Kolektif Fanmi Prizonye Politik (Political Prisoners� Families� Collective) remind us on International Women�s Day that political imprisonment also imposes a heavy punishment on the prisoners� partners and children. Kolektif members are forced to struggle to keep their families alive and together without their partner�s financial contribution, their help raising the children and their company. In most cases, the partners also need to bring the prisoners food every day, and work for their release. In some cases, the family�s house and belongings were destroyed in the violence following the February 2004 coup d�etat. Some women have now carried this burden for three years.
The Kolektif has also taken advantage of International Women�s Day to remind Haiti�s President Pr�val of their burden. An English translation of their Kreyol letteris below.� They�ve asked us to join our voices with theirs, to reinforce their message. Please write to President Pr�val urging him to take every possible step to return the political prisoners to their family. A sample letter is at the bottom, feel free to customize it. You may send yours directly to President Pr�val by regular mail, or to us by fax: (206) 350-7986 (a U.S. number) or email: email@example.com, and we will ensure that it is delivered.
KOLEKTIF FANMI PRIZONYE POLITIK
IMP. LAVAUD NO. 3, PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI
Le 08 mars 2008
OPEN LETTER FOR PRESIDENT REN� PR�VAL ON THE OCCASION OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN�S DAY TO DEMAND JUSTICE AND REPARATIONS FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
We would like to take advantage of the occasion of International Women�s Day to write this letter to inform you of the conditions under which the women married to political prisoners live today.
Since February 29, 2004, our children have not been able to go to school, we have not been able to pay rent, and we cannot eat. Many of us have had our houses burned, we sleep in the houses of others, our brothers, our sisters, etc. Even bringing our husbands food is done with great difficulty.
We would like to make you aware that today is a day of mourning for the wives of political prisoners. We are despised. We voted for all this to change, but instead it has become worse.
Why have we not been able to find justice up to the present? When we organize non-violent protests, the National Police use their clubs on us. Some of us have become incapacitated from these blows.
We hope that the living conditions of us, the wives of political prisoners and the poor women of popular neighborhoods are not the same in March 2008.
We salute you patriotically,
Mrs. Yvon Antoine, aka �Zap-Zap�
Mrs. Fritz Paul
cc. ������ His Excellency Jacques Edouard Alexis, Prime Minister
His Excellency Ren� Magloire, Minister of Justice
Mr. Edmond Mulet, Special Representative of the UN Sectretary General in Haiti
Ambassador Dennis Modeste, OAS Mission to Haiti
Mr. Necker Dessables, Office for the Protection of Citizens
Mr. Thierry Faggart, Human Rights Section, MINUSTAH
Senator Antoine Ren� Samson, Senate Human Rights Commission
Son Excellence Ren� Pr�val
Pr�sident de la R�publique d� Ha�ti
I am writing to join with the women of the Kolektif Fanmi Prizonye Politik in urging you to consider the tremendous impact that the holding of political prisoners has on the prisoners� families. Many of the families have now endured over three years without their partners, their husbands and their fathers.
In many cases, the prisoner was the family�s main financial support. The families are forced to stay with friends and relatives, often moving from place to place. They often do not have enough to eat and cannot send their children to school.
I understand your position that your government will not improperly interfere with the justice system, even on behalf of those unjustly imprisoned. But there is much your government can do within its executive powers. Your prosecutors can inform the courts that they believe the cases are legally unjustified, and recommend that they be dismissed. Where the courts refuse to dismiss cases, the prosecutors can petition for immediate pre-trial release so the political prisoners can join their families, and the prosecutors can set a rapid trial date.
I appreciate the efforts your government has made towards freedom for several political prisoners arrested under the Interim Government of Haiti, including Annette Auguste, Yvon Neptune and Fr. Jean-Juste. Unfortunately, many more political prisoners remain behind bars, and many prisoners� families continue to bear a heavy, unnecessary burden. Accordingly, I humbly request that you take all possible legal steps to end the persecution of the political prisoners in Haiti.